Do pastors even know what they're talking about? Do parishoners?

I stumbled across this little gem of Christians bickering (like they do) about who is the "real" Christian, and how so-and-so is a heretic and not preaching the "true" gospel, etc. etc. Stuff like this is a dime a dozen, but I found this one entertaining because it involves a pastor from a church I attended as a teenager – Bill Scheer from GUTS Church here in Tulsa.

GUTS' claim to fame is that it's a "rock n' roll" church. You wear whatever you want, they play contemporary music, and the church is basically in a big warehouse instead of a fancy work of architectural art. Churches like this are pretty common nowadays, with Life Church being a pretty widespread example. These are non-denominational churches, which is interesting to me. Technically, it just means that they're not affiliated with any particular national denomination. But it's also supposed to mean that you're not this kind of Christian or that – you're just a Christian. Accordingly, the messages tend to be full of feel-good pop psychology and of the kind of fuzzy theological statements that people can interpret however they want. Here's the transcript from the excerpt from Bill Scheer's sermon in the above link:

... and I know some of you guys are raised that we are always sinners, even when we give our life to God. I'm not a sinner. If you'll ask me you'll say "Hey Scheer, you a sinner?" No! And I'll tell you quite simply why I'm not a sinner: it's 'cause the Bible says God doesn't hear the sinner. Well I'm tellin' ya, God hears me. And you know what he does? He responds to my requests. Man, he takes... he sits up on that throne and takes notice when I put a demand on his will.
I love this kind of crap, because it shows how utterly vacuous modern preaching can be. He's referring to John 9:31 – "We know that God doesn't listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will." It makes you wonder how, if this scripture is interpreted plainly, anyone gets "saved" if God doesn't hear "sinners", since Christianity condemns humans with guilt from birth.

But what caught my attention was the last part: "[God] takes notice when I put a demand on his will". I love it! God's will is divine. Perfect. Immutable. But according to Scheer, if you're right with God, he'll make exceptions for you when you demand them. It reminds me of the old George Carlin routine where he mocks prayer. God's will is perfect! But y'know, maybe he'll change his perfect divine plan to do you a favor.

The ridiculous (and dangerous) part of this is that it smacks of the same kind of karma-exalting hogwash found in that terrible movie The Secret, which claims there is a "Law of Attraction" in the universe and, if you just think good thoughts and do good things, everything will work out for you. This can have some pretty broad ramifications. It can be interpreted however you want. Scheer is a prosperity gospel preacher, so maybe if you're not rich enough it's because you didn't have enough faith. Or maybe a lack of faith is what's holding you back from that promotion, from beating cancer, from getting into that expensive college, or winning the heart of that pretty girl. Whatever. Believers can and do run wild with this kind of garbage. It's dangerous because it places a sense of personal responsibility on people about things over which they have no control.

I'm not trying to pick on Bill Scheer here. This style of preaching is as common as it is empty.  But when I found this, I had one of those moments where I thought, Man, I can't believe I used to believe that crap!   Groupthink is a powerful thing, and it gets us agreeing with all kinds of unreasonable nonsense.


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